At noon on that day we were formed in line, with the Eighty-first Pennsylvania on our right and the Sixty-first New York on our left, and moved out of the town to the field, where the battle had just commenced. During the march from the place where the line was formed, as stated above, to the rising ground where the line of battle was formed, the regiment suffered terribly from an enfilading fire from the enemy's batteries on our right and left, as well as from the front.
On arriving near the rise of ground where the line of battle was formed, we were ordered to file into on the right-a movement very difficult to execute with precision or regularity, owing to the muddy condition and uneven surface of the ground, as well as from the incessant and destructive fire from the enemy's batteries and musketry, concealed by interchments and rifle-pits. In executing this movement, the left of the regiment was thrown beyond a high and close board fence running at right angles to the line of battle.
In the absence of Major Patton, who had been disabled for several weeks by sickness and a broken arm, I was directed by Colonel Brown to take a position on the left of the regiment. After the left had gotten into position, and the men had been firing some time, I discovered troops on our right moving backward and to the right, but I was unable to determine whether they were the right of our regiment alone or not, from the fact that troops were constantly moving forward to relieve others in front and they in turn falling back.
After remaining in this position about two hours, I succeeded in making an opening in the fence, and passed along the front to the right the distance of about four regiments; but, not being able to find the regiment, I returned to the position I had taken on the left. This portion of the regiment fired away all their ammunition, as well as a number of rounds taken from the dead and wounded around them. We remained in this position-were much exposed to the fire of the enemy-till dusk, at which time the firing had principally ceased, when we returned to the town and found the balance of the regiment, which had been withdrawn, as I then learned, in the afternoon.
I found Colonel Brown dangerously wounded, having received a bullet in his right breast and one in his leg above the knee, whilst gallantly urging his men forward. I also found a large number of the line officers killed and wounded; also a large number of non-commissioned officers and privates. Two companies were left without a single commissioned officer, and others with but one or two.
Our loss amounts to 224 killed, wounded, and missing, out of 505 that went into action. Twenty-three were killed or have since died; 150 were wounded, and 51 are missing, all of whom are supposed to be dead or wounded.* Our State flag was pierced with eighteen bullets; our regimental flag with thirteen bullets and one large piece of railroad iron, whilst the flag-staff was shattered to pieces with a piece of shell.
No words of mine are necessary to vindicate the bravery of the officers and men in this their first and at the same time the most desperate battle of modern times; that is silently and triumphantly attested by the torn flags and shattered ranks now before me.
D. B. McCREARY,
Lieutenant GEORGE W. SCOTT,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
*But see revised statement, p.129.